You don’t have to get zapped when you hire an electrical contractor. By doing a little homework you can find a qualified person to do the work within your budget. The first thing to decide is the nature of the project. Do you need an electrician for a rewiring job or a contractor to wire a building from the ground up?

Other considerations include the size of the building. Is it a small office or is a corporate office park? Do you need a contractor for a single project in one city or do you have multiple projects in different cities and states?

To find a contractor who specializes in the type of work your specific project calls for, a good place to start is the National Electrical Contractors Association. NECA boasts a 4,300-member database, broken down by type of contractor and size of project. That list can be narrowed by going to NECA’s Web site and clicking on the icon for finding a contractor. “A small business will want to work with a local contractor, whereas a large company with [project] locations all over the country may want to deal with a contractor that handles national accounts,” said Robert Colgan, director of the association.

But the size of the business requiring an electrical contractor is not what dictates the size of the contracting firm.

If a large company has only one project in one locale, it may want to consider working with a local contractor that can give it a personal level of service.

Whether it’s a large job or a small job, it’s important to hire someone qualified to do the job. ,p> “I think a track record is very important, an established track record of delivering — getting a job done on time and on budget,” said Jim Spellane, spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The IBEW Web site offers links to union shop contractors throughout the country and the Independent Electrical Contractor Association’s Web site offers lists of qualified nonunion contractors.

Whether you decide to hire a merit shop contractor or a union contractor, choose one who is experienced in the type of work your project calls for. Again, both the IBEW and the IECA can offer assistance in finding a qualified contractor in your area or one who is capable of handling jobs in more than one area.

Don’t just look at one contractor. Get multiple bids before choosing and don’t make your decision based solely on who submits the lowest bid.

“Cost is not always an indication of which contractor you should choose,” Spellane said. “Look at the one who has the most experience, the most qualified work force.”

Choosing a contractor who doesn’t have a proven track record with the type of project you need done can mean cost overruns or even having to bring in another contractor if the job isn’t done right the first time.